I was fortunate enough to go to a high school that had a diverse student body. However, there wasn’t much of an outlet for non-white students to talk about their experience as being people of color. I was interested in the “A Girl Like Me” film because it gave me insight into how African American women feel about their identity. In the film, young African American women talk about the pressure they feel from society and the media to be certain ways. For example, all of the girls interviewed talk about the desire to have lighter skin. Glenda says that society tells black women that lighter skin is prettier. She also says that she knows some women that claim they will never marry a dark skinned man because they don’t want “that” in their gene pool. Wahida tells us that her friends love themselves except for the color of their skin. Jennifer used to think she was ugly because she had darker skin. Stephanie talks about how her aunt uses skin bleaching cream on herself and her kids. It saddens me that young African American women feel that they shouldn’t embrace their true selves, but rather must strive to be something they’re not. Another pressure from society is the need to have naturally relaxed hair. Stephanie talks about her mother’s criticisms of wearing her hair naturally: “When I first started to wear my hair natural, at first my mom was okay with it. She thought it looked nice. And then, after the second day she said, ‘Stop that! It looks African.’” Her mother doesn’t want her to embrace her African roots. I can’t imagine what this feels like. I’m half British and my parents never told me not to embrace this part of my identity. The film also does a “doll test” with black children. The doll test was first performed by Dr. Kenneth Clark during the Brown vs. Board of Education case. There’s a white doll and a black doll, and black children are asked which doll is “the nice doll” and which doll “looks bad.” The white doll was picked the majority of the time. “A Girl Like Me” repeated this test to see if American society has progressed since then. I was shocked that the responses were the same as during the Brown vs. Board of Education case. It frustrates me that black children still see darker skin as “bad.”

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